Last week, I testified on Missouri House Bill 1685, known as “Right to Try” (or as Garrett Haake of KSHB 41 in Kansas City calls it, “the Missouri Buyers Club bill.”) This legislation would allow terminally ill patients to use experimental medications that have not yet completed Food and Drug Administration (FDA) testing, but have passed “Phase One” of the FDA’s approval process. As KSHB explained:
Phase one refers to the first phase of FDA approval in which a drug has been proven to be safe for human consumption, but not thoroughly tested for overall efficacy, appropriate doses or possible side effects – a process that could take years.
Not every investigational drug is effective, and it takes time for new drugs to complete the FDA trials. But for terminally ill patients, unfortunately, that’s time they do not have. HB 1685 stands for the proposition that terminally ill patients should have the opportunity to try all reasonable means to fight for their health and their lives.
I do realize there are FDA obstacles to the implementation of this reform. Missouri can institute a law that conflicts with the federal law, but the federal law will still take precedence. That doesn’t mean, however, that Missouri can’t change its law to anticipate movement at the federal level, whether those changes would come in the way of statutory revisions, waivers, or non-enforcement.
I think HB 1685 is a compassionate and reasonable response to a very real problem that American families and their loved ones face today. It’s time to talk about how we can give those families hope by making more treatment opportunities available where that’s possible; I’m glad Missouri is discussing it.